Managing Stress Caused by Coronavirus During Pregnancy
With the Coronavirus pandemic, people all over the world are experiencing more stress and anxiety about their health, safety, livelihood, and general well being. This is especially true for people who are pregnant during this time. Pregnancy by itself can be a source of increased stress and worry, so when there is a major external stressor, it can feel even more challenging. It's not possible to get rid of all stress and worry, but there are small things you can do to help lower your stress levels.
Take a media break and unplug! It's easy to become completely engulfed in what's happening -- we're surrounded by a 24/7 barrage of media on phones, online, TV, radio, etc. You have be intentional if you want to avoid it all, and when you're trying to lower stress, that's exactly what you have to do. Intentionally "unplug" by leaving your phone in another room, turning off the TV, and staying off of news sites and social media. Consider doing it for a full day, but if that feels like too much, start with a couple of hours. Fill the time you would otherwise spend online/watching TV with doing something else you love, like reading a book, taking a nap, or talking with a good friend. Notice how you feel after taking a media break. Plan intentional media breaks throughout your week.
Take care of yourself first and foremost. Check in with yourself -- what do you need/want most right now? Do those things (within the realm of possibility; unfortunately, that doesn't include a pedicure at a local spa). Maybe it means pausing to drink a full glass of water, stopping to cook a warm meal (or ordering take out), eating a piece of fruit, taking a 20 minute nap, going to the bathroom, meditating, or doing nothing at all. Take time frequently to get quiet and check in with yourself to listen to your needs and try to meet them.
Talk with a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist. Sometimes the stress is more than we can handle. Talking with someone who is trained to help will help you cope. Your county's health department may even be offering free counseling hotlines.
Journal. Writing out your thoughts and feelings helps you process your emotions, and provides a way to offload the heavy things you carry with you. Sometimes, this small act of just getting things out of your head and onto paper can make you feel less anxious.
Connect with loved ones. Connecting with people you love and who know how to support and comfort you can go a long way in helping you feel less stressed. Even if you're connecting virtually, via phone or video, a good conversation is still valuable and helpful.
Take a virtual childbirth class. Many childbirth educators are currently hosting childbirth classes virtually instead of in person -- find a class taught by an educator near you and sign up! A quality childbirth class will give you tools for coping with stress and anxiety in addition to the preparing you for birth.
Meet basic needs. Get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat enough food, get enough human contact/connection. If one or more of these basics aren't being met, everything else will feel more difficult. When possible, make sure your basic needs are met.
Thanks to Cara Terreri for this great lists of tips! She is one of the many contributors to Lamaze International's website, who's goal is to keep moms informed and ready for their wonderful BIRTH day!